Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Lance Corporal Charles F. Azara, Jr.

Lance Corporal Charles F. Azara, Jr. (USMC)

I grew up in Youngstown watching the Vietnam War on the evening news. Meanwhile, young men from Youngstown were serving, fighting and dying in Vietnam. The war was unpopular, and sadly, we took it out on the returning soldiers, who, living or dead, did not always receive the honor they deserve. Each year, on Memorial Day, I remember one of those who died, representing the sixty-four from Youngstown who made the ultimate sacrifice.

This year I focus on Lance Corporal Charles F. Azara, Jr. He served with H(otel) Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine
Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.

Charles F. Azara, Jr. was born to Charles F. Azara and Rose Adams Azara Ranno on September 8, 1942. He graduated from North High School in 1960, where he played football and was a member of the school band. After graduation, he worked for Strouss-Hirshberg, Simco Shoe, and then the Edward J. Debartolo Construction Company.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in November of 1965 at the Cleveland recruiting office. After bootcamp, he was deployed in Vietnam at the end of May 1966. On August 24, 1966, he was on combat patrol in the mountains approximately 14 km north northwest of the An Hoa Airfield, a Marine Corps Combat Base in Quang Nam Province. At about 1100 hours local time, his patrol came under small arms fire and he received a gunshot wound to the neck from which he died before medevac could arrive, approximately at 1200 hours. He died less than a month before his 24th birthday.

Funeral services were held on Saturday September 3 at the Immaculate Conception Church followed by interment at Calvary Cemetery, where he lies at rest.

He was awarded the Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, and Vietnam Campaign medals. He served with honor, dying in action. His name appears on the Vietnam War Memorial on Panel 10E, Line 32. I honor and remember him, and all who died in service to our country.


Other servicemen remembered in this series:

SP4 Robert Thomas Callan

SP4 Patrick Michael Hagerty

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

Review: Dusk, Night, Dawn

Dusk, Night, Dawn: On Revival and Courage, Anne Lamott. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021.

Summary: An exploration of the values that sustain us when we see a world as well as our own bodies falling apart.

Anne Lamott wrote this in the first year of the pandemic amid illness, lockdown, and death, reports on the dire consequences of a rapidly warming planet and a presidential election fraught with conflict. And she writes of being newly married, three days after she signed up for Medicare. The book evidences a consciousness of both bodies and the world falling apart. Internally as well as physically, she seems more aware than ever how messed up we are, both by the complicated histories of our families and our own lousy choices.

A predominant message of this book is “that love is sovereign here, and that the hardest work we do is self-love and forgiveness.” We try to pretend we are better than we are, only to fall flat on our faces, as Lamott describes during the time she struggled with alcoholism, sprawled on a cliff ledge after having blacked out, with a battered toenail and all muddy. If anything as we get older, we have a diminished capacity to keep up the façade.

Along the way, we listen to her as she describes the awakening to the challenge of living with another person with all their foibles, trying to teach Sunday school to a bunch of kids who are more concerned about when is the snack, who think that the passage in Exodus about seeing God’s back is about seeing his butt, and the challenges of a new cat in the house. She explores the strangeness and difficulty of repentance, the growth of forgiveness in us like the growth of a nautilus shell, her alarm at swallowing pills meant for her dog, and enduring a night of people telling the stories, droning on and on.

Somehow, she maintains hope that in the end, all will be well with the climate, and with us. She believes we’ve risen to other occasions and will to this. I think Lamott’s gift is self-deprecating honesty, grown even more acute as she gets older that eventuates in both forgiveness and recognition of the moments of grace. At times one feels that her efforts to share wisdom end up as platitudes like “love is the gas station and the fuel.” Then, on the same page you encounter the staggering insight that as messed up as we are “we are loved out of all sense and proportion.” Perhaps in the end, that is what makes all the difference between hope and despair. Platitudinous or profound, one has the sense that Anne Lamott stumbles day by day toward that love and toward that hope (and she really doesn’t care how it sounds).

Review: Doing Asian American Theology

Doing Asian-American Theology, Daniel D. Lee. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2022.

Summary: A book laying out a framework for doing Asian-American theology considering both the shared and diverse cultural contexts of Asian-American peoples.

For too long we would “do theology” without cultural modifiers. It was assumed that the theology that arose from European and American contexts (at least among the dominant culture) was theology. Only in doing mission did the awareness arise that there was a lot in the theology of European-Americans that was contextual, and out of context in indigenous settings. To truly be embraced in indigenous contexts, the faith had to be translated not only into the language but also the culture of the people.

Daniel D. Lee contends that this concern for context is no less true for Asian Americans who believe, and in this book he attempts to set out the cultural context that frames doing theology as an Asian American. “Neutral” theology really is White theology, and risks the loss of distinctive Asian American cultural identity and the contribution of Asian Americans to the global and national mosaic of the church. Just as Jesus entered the world as a Jew in all the particularities of Jewishness, so the particularities of being Asian American matter.

Before we launch into the framework Lee proposes, we should note his definition of Asian American theology. He writes:

“Asian American theology is about God revealed in Jesus Christ in covenantal relationship with Asian Americans qua Asian Americans. Thus, Asian American theology is about Asian Americans as human covenant partners with God.”

For Lee, particularity matters and can be lost when we are blind to the cultural normativities latent in so-called “neutral theologizing.”

The framework he then proposes is what he calls the “Asian American Quadrilateral.” The four themes he articulates are:

  1. Asian heritage. These are the cultural, religious, and philosophical inheritances that inform an intuited sense of “how things are done.” As there are many Asian peoples, this is hardly monolithic and sometimes conflicting. There is a danger of essentializing or giving way to stereotypes (e.g. the “tiger mom”). He develops the use of cultural archetypes such as Confucian filial piety, some consonant with the faith, some distorted by fallenness, some neutral but which may be considered through the eyes of faith.
  2. Migration experience. This addresses the immigrant or refugee experience, acculturation and assimilation, intergenerational conflicts and identity formation.
  3. American culture. This addresses everything from American cultural and theological heritage to colonialism to the secular and post-modern turn of the culture and what it means to live amid different ways in which “things are done” and how the Asian and American aspects of one’s identity are integrated personally and in congregations.
  4. Racialization. This involves understanding the process of racial identity formation, the black/white binary, the particular experience of microaggressions Asian Americans experience, often summed up in the “perpetual foreigner” status.

After devoting a chapter to each theme, Lee offers two concluding chapters where he begins to do some theological formulation around identity and the church. He first discusses fragmented and integrated identities in the Asian American experience and the trauma of self-editing that comes with living bi-culturally. He believes healing comes when mental categories to describe one’s experience, such as the Quadrilateral, are developed, leading to storytelling that constructs a coherent narrative of one’s life, and spiritually formative communities where narratives are shared, affirmed, and offer insight.

Finally, he addresses the idea of the Asian American church, addressing the flaws in various proposals of multi-racial churches, particularly that these often lead to being blind to the structural aspects of racism as well as submerging identities, often for the sake of White normativity. He draws on Rowan William’s idea of “mixed economy” to explore the various layers of diversity that may exist within a community, going beyond race and ethnicity. Drawing on the Quadrilateral, he proposes contextual communities for Asian heritage, transitional communities for migrant communities, missional communities for American culture and liberational communities for racialization. Some will come more to the fore than others at times and they will exist in tension with each other.

The subtitle of this work is important to make sense of what Lee is doing. “A Contextual Framework for Faith and Practice” helps one see that before one engages in the work of theology proper, one must be aware (and self-aware) of the context within which it is being done so that theological reflection both reflects and engages one’s Asian American identity and the Asian and American contexts in which that is lived out. As an onlooker in this enterprise, I look forward to see what is built upon this framework and how it enables Asian American Christians to flourish, the wider church to see Christ more fully, and the wider culture offered a fresh witness to the God who has been revealed in Jesus Christ.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: Mossflower

Mossflower (Redwall #2), Brian Jacques. New York: Avon Books, 1988.

Summary: A prequel to Redwall, narrating the quest of Martin the Warrior and his companions to deliver Mossflower from the attack of the cruel wildcat Tsarmina, ruling from the fortress Kotir, next to Mossflower Wood.

Martin the warrior mouse is marching by the Kotir fortress when seized, after a fierce fight, by the forces of Verdauga, the dying wildcat Lord of Kotir. His daughter Tsarmina, furious that Verdauga has spared Martin’s life, breaks his sword, creating the enmity between Tsarmina and Martin that builds throughout the book. Martin meets Gonff, a mouse-thief in the prison, and Gonff succeeds in helping them both escape into Mossflower Wood.

Verdauga dies. Tsarmina imprisons her brother and rules. She is ruthless, willing to kill any who challenge her. The tribute she enforces drives villagers into Mossflower, leading to increasingly depleted stores. She plots the conquest of Mossflower. Her forays are resisted by mice, moles, hedgehogs and squirrels but it is apparent that Kotir’s might is superior. It is decided that only with the aid of Boar the Fighter, who went off many years ago on a quest to Salamandastrom Mountain, the Mountain of Dragons, that they can conquer. Martin, wearing his broken sword around his neck, along with Gonff and Dinny the mole, go on a quest to the mountain, surmounting encounters with crabs, toads, gulls and owls.

Will they find Boar alive? Will they return in time when no one has come back from Salamandastrom? And will the determined animals of Mossflower be able to withstand the attacks of Tsarmina until reinforcements arrive? Along the way, we see Martin truly emerge as the Warrior, and learn of the forging of his sword that plays such an important role in Redwall. We also admire the ingenuity and fierce resolution of the creatures of Mossflower.

Martin and Gonff make ideal companions and part of the enjoyment of the book is the friendship between the determined warrior and the happy-go-lucky but equally courageous Gonff. We also observe the folly of evil, its propensity to self-destruction that help undermine the advantages Tsarmina has enjoyed, even as her fortress is slowly being undermined. By contrast, there is the goodness of the creatures of Mossflower, loving peace but resolute and self-sacrificial in the defense of their home. The arrival of the Abbess Germaine adds wisdom, spiritual depth, and the arts of a healer, desperately needed as Mossflower faces war. And in her arrival, the foundations are laid for Redwall.

In addition to the contest between the forces of Tsarmina and those of Mossflower, Jacques fills in many backstories alluded to in Redwall. I hope this is not all we see of this generation. I really liked Martin and Gonff and hope I will see more of them.

Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House, Ann Patchett. New York: HarperCollins, 2019.

Summary: Two siblings, Maeve and Danny, seek to come to terms with past losses of parents, and their childhood home, a striking three-story home built by a Dutch couple.

This story, it seems to me is about the longings of people who care for each other, often at variance with each other, resulting in wounds of estrangement, with which we may spend a lifetime trying to come to terms. So it is with siblings Danny and Maeve Conroy, born seven years apart. Their father, an aspiring real-estate tycoon has bought an extravagant house in an old Dutch neighborhood of Philadelphia, once owned by the Van Hoebeek’s, whose forbidding portraits and presence fill the house. Danny, who has never known anything else is the narrator of this account. Conroy’s wife Elna, who nearly became a nun, cannot come to terms with a place so extravagant. Her absences become longer until she leaves permanently, devoting herself to a life helping the poor, first in India and later, at various places in the United States, including New York’s Bowery.

Cyril’s ambitions, represented in his growing portfolio of properties leaves him vulnerable to the longings of Andrea, who becomes his second wife, bringing her two daughters. She has no problem seeing the house as hers. She relegates Maeve to a third floor bedroom so her daughter Norma can have her room. When Cyril, making repairs on one of his buildings, drops dead of a heart attack, Andrea expels Danny from the house, forcing him to live with Maeve. Soon they learn they have been cut out of their father’s company and assets apart from an educational trust for Danny and Andrea’s two girls.

Maeve already has a job as chief financial officer for a frozen vegetable concern and uses acumen to look after her brother, using the trust first to send him to Columbia, and then through medical school. She pours her life out for Danny, who strikes me as spoiled and self-absorbed, at times, to the detriment of her own health as a diabetic. It seems her longing is to be needed. Yet the question of what Danny wanted wasn’t asked. Finally after his medical training, he pursues what he wants–to be like the father he had followed around collecting rents and making repairs as a boy. That longing clashes with his wife, Celeste who thought she was marrying a doctor, anticipating the life of a doctor’s wife.

Meanwhile, Maeve and Danny continue to wrestle with the father and mother they lost, symbolized by the Dutch House. Repeatedly, they sit together, parked across the street wondering why their mother had left, why their father had so compromised their interests, and what had become of their evil stepmother. They try to understand their past and its hold on their lives. It turns out that they end up being versions of the parents they had lost.

I’ve often wrestled with what I’ve felt to be the unsatisfying endings of many of Patchett’s books. For one, I felt that Patchett wrote an ending I found to be satisfying. Not everyone lives happily ever after but there are real resolutions, real reconciliations. Danny, as narrator, grows in a trajectory of maturity and character. I’ll leave you to discover how Patchett accomplishes this. Like her other novels, she explores the unique ways in which families can be unhappy. In the resolution of this one, I found it satisfying in the authentic growth of the characters. I leave to you to discover how she does this and what you think.

Review: Christian Poetry in America Since 1940

Christian Poetry in America Since 1940, Edited by Micah Mattix and Sally Thomas. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2022.

Summary: An anthology of poetry written by a wide variety of poets who identify as Christian, born between 1940 and 1989.

When I first saw the title of this work, I felt myself cringe. Would this be the schlocky Hallmark poetry with a Christian veneer or something more substantial? I took the chance because Paraclete Press has come to represent intellectual and aesthetic quality in the publications I’ve received from them. I was not disappointed and in the process discovered a wide range of poets, many of whom have won distinguished literary awards or even served as Poet Laureates. The anthology includes poets born between 1940 and 1989, which excludes two of the more well-known poets we may think of–Luci Shaw and Wendell Berry.

What I found instead of saccharine-sweet pretty works were the honest probing of people who have thought deeply about both faith and life. For example Andrew Hudgins (from Ohio State, notes a fellow Buckeye) writes about “Praying Drunk” and stumbling through a rubric that will be familiar to some of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication, if he is able to remain awake. Franz Wright opens his poem “Baptism” writing “That insane asshole is dead / I drowned him / and he’s not coming back. Look / he has a new name / a new life….” “Blessings” by Jay Parini writes not only of picking dandelion greens and small potatoes and cliff diving with friends, but also of lying naked with his love. A blessing indeed but adult stuff, where a Christ-informed vision meets the real stuff of human life. We have Christian Wiman’s “After The Diagnosis,” written after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis (although it appears that he is in remission as of this writing), reflects on how change comes into our lives.

The poetry comes in a variety of forms from sonnet to free verse to Shane McCrae’s “visceral, fractured lines.” Few are longer than a page. One of the shorter poems I liked was Marilyn Nelson’s “Incomplete Renunciation,” which asks for the American dream house, concluding “And let it pass / through the eye of a needle.” Dana Gioia’s “Seven Deadly Sins” speaks dismissively in the voice of Pride of the other six sins. Scott Cairns “Possible Answers to Prayer” considers how God may regard some of the things for which we pray and the places of the heart from which we pray.

Each poet is introduced with a one page or so literary biography considering both the character of their work and the awards and recognitions that work has received. The work includes acknowledgements of the sources of each work and an index of titles as well as an introductory essay by one of the editors, Micah Mattox.

This work demonstrated to me that, contrary to the voices decrying the banality of Christians in the arts, that there are accomplished writers doing good work. For those like myself who want to get more poetry in their lives, including poetry written through the eyes of faith, this book is a wonderful gateway that both stands on its own and introduces us to writers whose work we may want to explore more deeply.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — The Shields Family

James H. Shields

I biked all over Youngstown during my teen years, often through Mill Creek Park, where I sometimes came out on Shields Road, running east and west through Boardman Township. I never gave a thought to where the name came from. Since then, I’ve learned that many of those streets are named after early families from the area. It turns out that this was true of Shields Road.

Thomas Shields, originally from Staunton, Virginia moved to Ohio in 1798. As early as 1800, he operated a mill known as Baird’s Mill on the site of what is now Lanterman’s Mill. His son, Andrew Shields was born October 18, 1808. At the time, Thomas, who first lived in Boardman Township, had a farm in Canfield Township, where Andrew was born. Later the family moved to the farm in Boardman Township, located astride Canfield Road and the westernmost part of Shields Road.

An early map of Mahoning County showing the property of Andrew Shields in northwest Boardman Township, between two properties owned by Elizabeth Lanterman

Andrew married Jane Price, daughter of an early West side family, in 1826. They had three children of whom James Howard was the eldest. Andrew was an industrious farmer and stockman who drove his own stock to Pittsburgh. Andrew lived on the farm until 1880. Jane lived until 1901.

James Howard was born November 12, 1840 on the farm, as many children of the day were. He followed in his father’s footsteps, driving cattle as far as Little Valley, New York from the time he was twelve. At thirteen, he went to Illinois to buy cattle, carrying $7,000 on his person, driving them all the way to Hudson, New York, an 87 1/2 day journey! At age 19, he settled down as a farmer and stockman in the Youngstown area, owning five farms altogether, with the Boardman Township farm his home, consolidating two other farms into his holdings.

He tried to enlist in the first company raised from Youngstown during the Civil War. He was rejected because he’d broken both arms at some point caring for animals, two of a number of accidents he had. His injuries didn’t prevent him from marrying Lois Starr, with whom he had three children, one of whom, Mary (Mate) drowned in Mill Creek at age eight. In 1883, he moved into Youngstown, living for a time on Glenwood, then at 1040 Mahoning Avenue. He set up a meat business in downtown Youngstown, at two locations before finally setting up at 129 E. Federal. He closed up the business in 1897 and returned to farming and shipping cattle. He was known as a cattleman throughout Ohio.

He was also politically active as chairman of the Democratic Party and elected Mahoning County Sheriff in 1898, serving a term ending in 1900. After this time he moved back to the farm. He also served on the Canfield Fair Board for many years. He lived on the farm until the death of Lois in 1914, moving in with his daughter, eventually relocating to Akron, where he passed after a stroke, on June 1, 1919. He is buried in Canfield Village Cemetery, in an unmarked grave. His obituary says “he was of genial disposition and made friends readily.”

The farm passed to his son Allora who only lived until 1926. I’ve not been able to determine what happened to the farm after Allora’s passing. He had three sons, Russell who died in 1930, James Howard, who worked at Isaly’s and died in 1987, and John Allen, who lived until 1992. A daughter Norma J. Shields Smith died in 2007.

The Shields family were among the early families to settle in the Boardman area and well known in farming and livestock circles in the Youngstown area. Today they are remembered by the road that bears their name.

To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!

Review: You Are Us

You Are Us, Gareth Gwyn. Austin: River Grove Books, 2023.

Summary: An account using case studies showing how self-understanding and inner work allows individuals to become leaders in healing polarized relationships.

It seems we are in a time of unprecedented polarization around politics, racial and sexual identity, religion, and socioeconomic status. Often, we feel these divisions are so deeply embedded, the wounds and grievances so great, that bridging those divides seem impossible. Gareth Gwyn, the founder of Let’s See Labs, an organization that develops media on various platforms and offers workshops “that facilitate sociocultural transformation” through work with individuals who become leaders in transformative cross-cultural relationships.

Gwyn traces our polarized relationships to the experience of inner trauma that often draw us into social identities of reaction in which we blame the pain on “them.” We act out of our trauma, even while being disconnected from it. Transformation results when a person, often in the presence of unconditional acceptance, is able to recognize the inner wounds and traumas that have led to looking at the world through a lens of hate and “us versus them.” The book uses several case studies (accessible as online videos through QR codes in the book) to show this transformative process. For me, the story of Scott, a former KKK member deeply alienated from his own family, who had a transformative encounter with a black man at a rehabilitation center, was the high point of this book, leading to a process through which Scott experienced inner healing and became a reconciliation leader.

The book moves from our inner healing to a posture of responsiveness that claims the freedom over our emotions and the choices of action in response to them. Recognizing our own worth, we recognize that of others. We face how we have contributed to polarities, even to our own victim status, while fully grasping both the role of the other and developing awareness of that person’s own wounds. We gain freedom both to embrace and move beyond our identities.

My only struggle with the book is that the author assumes a familiarity with the vocabulary of “inner work” which may feel like in-group jargon or “psychobabble” to some. Some explanation or translation of this terminology might help more effectively make the important case this book makes to a wider audience.

Gwyn’s book seems to illustrate an important idea articulated by Fr. Richard Rohr that, “If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.” The cover art represents this transformation. It reads, “You Are Either With Us or Against Us.” As people do inner work dealing with their pain, Gwyn believes that we see how the other is actually “us” leading to the beginnings of bridging divides.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher through Speakeasy

Favorite Summer Reading Places

Photo by Victoria Rain on

One of the joys of warmer weather is the chance to take one’s reading outdoors. There are a so many places that go well with a book in the summer months. Here are a few that I thought of, and have enjoyed.

Front porches. I grew up in a neighborhood of front porches. Ours had awnings to shade from the afternoon son but were open to catch any cooling breezes. And it was easy to run in the house for a cool iced tea or lemonade.

A bench under a shady tree. We lived near a park with lots of shady areas and conveniently placed benches to make the most of the shade. I’d stick a paper back in a bike bag, go for a ride and find that perfect shady spot.

A hammock. Can you think of a more perfect picture of relaxation? Shade, the hammock perfectly molded to one’s body. The only challenge is staying awake! Better take a thriller with you.

A sidewalk café under an umbrella. Maybe in the cool of the morning with a hot coffee and scone, watching people on their way to work, perhaps reading a newspaper (remember those?) or perhaps a collection of Mary Oliver poetry.

A cabana at the beach. Sure, you can read on a lounge chair in the sun, but when you reach a certain age, you think of all the sand, sun screen, and feeling like you are baking, and a shaded structure to catch the breezes and the glare of the sun on the page makes this an ideal spot at the beach.

On the porch of a cabin by a mountain lake. Getting up early, perhaps with devotional or spiritual literature, listening to the waterfowl and the lapping of the water.

A backyard gazebo. I’ve known a few friends who have them and it can be delightful to slip away to curl up on a bench, take in the view, and lose oneself in a good novel.

The pergola in my backyard in the morning. I spent the mornings of one summer under our pergola reading my way through Calvin’s Institutes in the cool of the morning at a picnic bench with a cup of coffee at hand.

Our air conditioned library on a hot summer afternoon. It isn’t outdoors, but sometimes outdoors is just too hot unless you are in the water. It is a great place to retreat and realize just how many books there are in the world–enough to last a lifetime!

A bookstore with a café. Pick up that new novel or the latest in a mystery series, and head over to the café for an iced drink and get started reading your latest find!

Isn’t it wonderful how many places go well with a book? What are some of your favorites?

Review: Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann. New York: Doubleday, 2017.

Summary: The true crime account of a series of murders of Osage tribal people motivated by money and the FBI agent who arrested some of the major figures involved in the deaths.

In the 1920’s, members of the Osage Nation were among the richest people on earth. They held the rights to the oil beneath their land and each tribal member had “headrights” that resulted in growing payments and wealth. That wealth was the object of numerous unscrupulous actors from those who sold vehicles for far more than their worth to “guardians” who siphoned off proceeds for themselves. Then a number of Osage began dying, some mysteriously wasting away, others dying from “hits,” a bullet in the head.

The book centers around the deaths surrounding Mollie Burkhart. Her former husband, Roan, was murdered with a bullet through his head. Her mother and sister appeared to be poisoned. Another also died of a bullet into the head, never found by the doctor doing the autopsy. And one died in a spectacular house explosion. Then Mollie’s own health began deteriorating, even though she was under a doctor’s care for diabetes.

Local and state investigators failed to find the killers, and at points may have been in league with them. Finally, the case landed on the desk of a young J. Edgar Hoover, trying to build what would become the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Failure could deal a blow to his ambitions. He turned to Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, who didn’t fit the mold of the Bureau, but knew the territory. White, in turn, recruited a team of undercover agents who were crucial to the success of the investigation.

The book details White’s determined pursuit of those responsible, despite the death of witnesses and other intimidation tactics. He saved Mollie’s life, getting her different medical care, under which she immediately improved, raising questions about her own husband’s part. The book traces the trail to a powerful figure in Osage country, seemingly upstanding, but truly evil, who was lining his pockets with Osage wealth.

While White was able to see the killers of Mollie’s family to justice, David Grann also tells a darker story of many other deaths and other killers never convicted. He concludes the account with his meetings of descendants of the families who had suffered loss as he attempts to provide some account to satisfy the “blood that cried out.”

I found this an engaging, page turning account of a monumental injustice, one more of a litany injustice done to the First Nations of North America. Grann shows the ruthless and unscrupulous efforts to deprive the Osage of what was rightfully theirs. It is too bad that Tom White did not head up the FBI. The contrast between him and Hoover is striking. It would have been a very different agency. White and his family treated their work as a sacred calling worthy of their excellence and courage, defying a corrupt version of “the machine.”